Rethink Necessity: Getting to the Core II

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Please visit Part I to this post here.


When I think of the people that know a thing about necessity, I think of the Amish. There are very few superfluous things in their life. Let us examine a few things they do not have.

Lighting/electricity at night. They use candles, oil lamps, or flashlights. They get most of their work done in the early day, as our ancestors did.

Style. The women do not spend money on fashion, makeup, jewelry, extra garments, so on. They truly do not keep up with fashion in any way, so they are free from the chase of new and exciting things, keeping up with technology and beauty products as they improve. That is freedom. This extends to their personal regimen, but also to their houses. They don’t wear or display wealth. No extravagance or excess in furniture or decor. What is simple and reliable is best for them.

They also do not wear wedding rings. They do not need to explain to anyone they barely know that they are married or not, that their husband loves them or not, that their husband is wealthy or not. The women do not work outside of their property, so they do not have to worry about clients or coworkers. Through no makeup and rings, no fancy cars or garments, there is no provoking among the classes. Their weddings are very affordable, as they use no veil and sew their own dress. They take pride in their sewing as it means that they can drastically reduce cost for their future family.

Even people outside of the religious realm (of monks and Amish and priesthood) choose to wear a uniform by choice (Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jay Leno, Nikola Tesla, Christopher Nolan, and many others). It is something that has many benefits – not focusing on the outside more than necessary.

Grocery store visits – they do go to the grocery store, but they cut it out as much as possible through canning, baking their own bread, and growing as much as possible on a small plot of land. Because 97% of the wives stay home, it is manageable for all of them to tend a small garden, despite having 10 kids. With our careers, we have many responsibilities (long commute, 8-hour days, 1-hour lunch) and a limited set of skills, and this leads to added expense to us on our free time in the form of convenience in food (grocery stores and fast food) and paid exercise.

Amish garden

On exercise – the Amish would never think to enter a gym; it is superfluous – vanity or making a machine solely for exercise. The Amish get their squats and curls tending their garden, lifting their children, cleaning, doing laundry, playing with their children, kneading bread, canning, and sewing. They average over 14K steps a day, where 10K is considered an active lifestyle. The Amish men average 18K steps a day.

Cars – a horse and buggy is actually cheaper than a car, by about half, just less convenient. Also, even though they have 10 kids and two adults, they still only have one buggy. This is because the husband usually works near the home so he can see his kids often and work with his kids and help raise them. In this sense, they do not need two cars, as most Americans with more than 2 kids would.

If you think about a car, it is something people throughout history have done without. They have! Not until recently did we have cars and trains. But people survived perfectly fine without them, without buying online or from afar. So it is still possible to survive without these things if desired, we would just have to scale back our wants, drastically. I’m not advocating a car-free life, although with driverless cars on the horizon, it will become easier to get places affordably without ownership. All I’m saying is to rethink necessity. Maybe two cars are not necessary. Maybe moving to an area with good transportation will save you money, since transportation is our third biggest expense (after rent and health care). Maybe biking or walking to work is possible. Maybe getting a work-from-home job is in your future.

Working Near Home – working near home saves many expenses, the largest of which is your extra car bill. The second expense it saves is food. You rarely get tempted to eat out. It saves time in transportation. It allows you to be near your children. Finally, it saves in wardrobe costs. You do not need professional clothes, just practical clothes. Image and style only matters outside of your house. In your house, you have no pressure to be anything that you are not.

Whatever you truly desire, you can have. Many people worked near or from home all their lives, up until recently. Many people only owned one pot and one pan until recently. Many people never went to college and never finished high school, until recently. We have to rethink what enough is.

In the old times, children finished school a lot sooner than a student now, yet they could read and write significantly better. They could think deeply. This is because they read on their free time; they had many hours alone with their thoughts. There were no computers, laptops, TVs, mp3s, or video games. Think of how much richer they were! They were true free thinkers because few things were weighing on their worldview or opinions.

To recap on the New Order Amish:
Do use: generators, solar panels, buggy, washer, fridge, curtains, books, proper equipment for efficiency in farming, lotion, soap, hairbrush – ultimate simplicity
In moderation: art, grocery shopping
Not a necessity: indoor lights, razors, dishwasher, cars, radio, voting, technology, bras, variety in clothes, makeup, jewelry, shoes, bags, hair dye/styles, exercise equipment (barefoot is acceptable)

Because of their culture, they can also avoid Social Security, health insurance, and investments for retirement. Because we do not live in that culture, those three points (along with the horse and buggy) is impossible for us without burdening others or ourselves. There are still many things we can take away from their lifestyle.

2 thoughts on “Rethink Necessity: Getting to the Core II

  1. Very inspiring. My former husband always told me i wanted to live like the Amishs. He was right.
    Did you ever lived with them or visited ?

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